The Cornerstone

Meet Evan. This sixth-grader is a 4’8” blond bundle of energy in horn-rimmed glasses. His hair is wavy and long enough to make us all wonder if his parents believe they have spawned this millennia’s Samson, and it is so unkempt that it is always in his face. (I have to wonder if his energy comes from his hair, actually.) His gait is such that an adult commented once that she cannot see how he gets anywhere because it is so comically wonky. His passion is food; his brain is randomness; his personality is pure happiness. His hobby is raiding his polar-opposite sister’s room in an attempt to get her to leave it and join life, because where Evan is, life is. On steroids.
Yes, Evan is ADHD. He will tell you himself if you give him a chance to finally ramble there. His physician dad apparently won’t allow anyone to medicate him, and I understand why. He can control himself in class. He does well in school in spite of the firings of his brain; as a matter of fact, the kid is brilliant. You just have to listen long enough to see it.
He had tried out for the academic team before middle school, but the elementary coach is a seasoned veteran of sixteen years, plus she had several years as a player. She was having no part of it. The kid couldn’t be quiet long enough to take instruction, let alone play! But new coaches don’t know such things, and this year, I was the new middle school coach. Eighteen kids tried out this year, and I took them all for fear of cutting a gem.
So when Evan came with his sister (this is her one activity), we started him on quick recall. That did not go so well because Evan can get answers, but he cannot SPOUT them. He elaborates. He also cannot organize his mind to follow procedures like quick recall follows. Infractions added up quickly. I moved Evan to Future Problem Solving. There his randomness could shine, and he didn’t have to remember so many procedures quickly; but there was still an issue: his randomness and ramblings distracted the other team members from the task, and they got annoyed. He was great at thinking out of the box—a trait we desperately need in that competition, but he couldn’t control his energy. I had two teams that I put him with, and each one had at least one kid who was about to do him bodily harm. Since that was the case, I designated Evan as our alternate. He would play if someone could not be there because four people had to be on the team. He came to nearly every practice, but when competition days came, Evan sat out. He never complained. He never asked why. He took his ousting in a way that crushed my heart.
I regretted Evan’s rejection so badly that I promised his parents that if we went to State competition, he would play. FPS is a tough competition, and it is grueling for the kids. It was my first year, and it was their first year as middle school students to compete in it. Our chances were slim and none to make it to State, but the promise comforted my guilty conscience.
I believe God laughed as He brought on the miracle that sent my FPS team to State, but He also sent another miracle: they would have a separate competition for those kids who, like Evan, practiced, but never played. They would put them in teams and let them compete as the regular teams competed.
Evan would get his chance. I signed him up. We took him to State. He played at State. His team of alternates placed third at State while my regular team did not even make it to a second round of scoring. The kid is still beaming through his long, wavy locks and under his oversized horn-rimmed glasses. And while I am ecstatic for him, I am still wondering, “What if…”
This whole scenario has played over in my mind, and while Evan is not Jesus, this Scripture pops up in the middle of it all:
“Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
This came from the Lord
and is wonderful in our eyes?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit.”—Matt. 21:42-43
The Triumphal Entry. The praises of the masses. Jesus entering the temple complex, finally recognized for Who He is and finally allowing the masses to proclaim Him. As we read the Gospels, we wait for this moment. He was born King, the Son of the Highest, One of the Three-in-One, but for three years, He squelched those who knew Him because this moment had to be right. The right time had to be there. If it had happened before, something would not have been fulfilled in God’s plan, but NOW…
And while the masses acknowledged, the Pharisees and scribes had to find a way to get this uneducated carpenter out of the way before He destroyed all they had built.
The last week began. The week that would see the full rejection of the cornerstone, the casting aside of the very key all of Israel had to real life and hope, and not the traditions of their fathers; a week that would lead to the brutal killing of an innocent man, but Who was never murdered in the traditional sense. He gave His life in order to find it for Himself and for those He could not live without (… keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.—Heb. 12:2). In spite of the plotting of man, God’s Cornerstone was set into place. This was never in man’s hands.
I rejected a little boy. I felt guilty, but I felt I was doing the best I could for the team. Maybe I was wrong. One of the little girls on the team even came to me after their loss and said, “Mrs. Reid, I think we needed Evan.” I agreed, and I said, “But I thought you might do him bodily harm if I put him in.” She pondered a moment. “Well…yeah.” That little girl regretted losing, but nothing major happened in the universe because we lost. Losing happens.
I am becoming more and more aware of those who reject the Cornerstone of God because there is something major attached to that. I see them rejecting Him for similar reasons the nation of Israel did: He is weak; He hasn’t overthrown the tyrants; pain, illness, and loss still exist; He wants us to love whom?; He expects too much, and gives too little; I am fine going to church every Sunday and putting in my offering and judging those who do not follow the way of the Scriptures.
I pray that in my broken life, He can shine through. I pray for many in my company who may do all the right things, but do not have the Cornerstone as a foundation for what they do. I pray for those who are frustrated and fearful because God didn’t live up to their expectations—that they see that that is because their expectations are far too low, no matter what the hurt is from the disappointment. And my ultimate prayer for those colleagues, those kids, those parents, is that someone who knows Jesus hears from each of them a variation of what that little girl said to me when the smoke of loss cleared: “I think needJesus.”Reprinted by permission, Carolyn Reid, 2015

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